Sunday 22 April 2018

'I thought drinking would help with the loneliness'

Mary jokes that she had her teenage years in her 40s and 50s when every night involved a bottle of wine in front of the television or socialising with friends.

The teacher, who was speaking anonymously, said she previously had a busy life bringing up her two children and recalls rarely going out for a drink. But after her husband died and children left home she was overwhelmed with loneliness and started drinking to fill the void.

"I would drink until I was drunk. I was a functioning alcoholic. In the evening I would say I would only have a glass but I could not limit myself. When the children were young we never had drink in the house," she says.

She describes herself as a "responsible person" and was full of guilt about her drinking.

"I thought the drinking would help the loneliness but it got out of hand. I was on a downward slope and knew if I continued I was going to have terrible health problems."

The heavy drinking continued for eight years. Eventually she decided to get help and went to the Priory clinic in Dundrum, Dublin.

"I knew I needed help and had to reach out to someone. I cannot tell you what kind of shame I felt when I went there first," she says.

The treatment involved counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy and massage.

"I started to feel better about myself. I no longer had to endure morning hangovers."

She turned down invitations to go out with her old circle and admits their friendship is now strained.

Mary made a conscious effort to substitute her drinking time with activities and joined a gym. She has her coping strategies for outings like weddings, and has not had any setbacks since she began treatment a year ago.

Irish Independent

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